Alternative instruments for smoothing the consumption of primary commodity exporters
Countries that depend on a single primary export for their foreign earnings are likely to experience sharp fluctuations in export earnings and their underlying wealth, because of the instability of all primary commodity markets. As part of structural adjustment, several countries have liberalized their trade regimes, so domestic producers are no longer insulated from international price fluctuations. This paper concentrates on the management of country-level consumption risk, and considers actions which the government might undertake to reduce the cost of that risk. The paper reviews the costs of export price instability, with some reference to the empirical magnitudes. It considers the role of conventional instruments, including loans, price stabilization measures, and futures contracts. Particular attention is paid to the potential use of futures rollovers for longer-term price protection, and the effect of production response on that protection. The paper also discusses"commodity bonds"and dynamic consumption smoothing paths and offers conclusions.
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